Books Early Readers Features Genre It's Monday What Are You Reading Lifespan of a Reader Memoirs, Biographies, and Constructed Narratives Nonfiction Picture Books Reading Themes

[Monday Reading] Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King As Children: Fishing and Roller-Skating

"When Rosa Parks Went Fishing" by Rachel Ruiz and Chiara Fedele | "When Martin Luther King Jr Wore Roller Skates" by Mark Weakland and Patrick Ballesteros


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community. 

I chanced upon these two picturebook biographies by accident as I was looking for books that will fit our current reading theme which, incidentally, is about to end this week. Apparently, these two books are part of the Leaders Doing Headstand series.

When Rosa Parks Went Fishing

Written by: Rachel Ruiz Illustrated by: Chiara Fedele
Published by: Picture Window Books (2017)
ISBN: 1515815781 (ISBN13: 9781515815785)Book was borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

I have featured Nikki Giovanni’s Rosa here a few years ago (see my review here), and I am glad to find another picturebook biography on Rosa Parks. I believe the idea behind the Leaders Doing Headstand series is to personalize American leaders and present them in a more accessible way to young readers. The intention, perhaps, is to show them being engaged in activities that may be similar to what most contemporary children would do.

I did enjoy seeing Rosa as a young child, learning in the lap of her mother who was described to also love reading. Even in her youth, Rosa was shown to have a righteous way about her, despite the fact that she felt helpless acting on White boys who would bully her, push her off the road, or throw rocks at her and her friends.

Her grandparents gave her sage advice while they would go fishing at the nearby creek about standing up for what she believes in. Truth be told, I was expecting the entire narrative to revolve around a singular incident which showed Rosa Parks going fishing as a young girl, and encountering something at that point in time that was meaningful to her. But, as my teenage girl aptly stated when I told her my observation after reading the book: “Aaah, click-bait?” I had to admit that seemed fairly accurate. But the image above, did show that Rosa Parks went fishing with family members – and how significant life lessons were taught to her during that time.

Regardless, I still think this would be a good book to pair with Nikki Giovanni and Bryan Collier’s Rosa, and hopefully would also empower young readers into feeling that they, too, could fight injustice and make a difference.

When Martin Luther King Jr Wore Roller Skates

Written by: Mark Weakland Illustrated by: Patrick Ballesteros
Published by: Picture Window Books (2016)
ISBN: 1515801411 (ISBN13: 9781515801412). Book was borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Similar to my observation above, there was only one minor mention of Martin  roller skating near their home on Auburn Avenue in Atlanta, Georgia.

In contrast to the first book, this one had a more ‘cartoony’ vibe to it, something which I am not very sure how I feel about, given the theme. But perhaps, it may also be fitting, seeing how the lives of these important people are being deliberately packaged in a way that is relatable to young children.

From the beginning of the story, Martin Luther King’s purposeful avoidance of violence and physical conflict have been highlighted. Yet, the narrative also depicted him to be human enough to feel outrage and helpless anger in the face of oppression and marked injustice.

The interesting tidbits for me were those about his childhood: when they will say grace before a meal such as the one above, or when he would play with friends in his neighbourhood, regardless of their race or skin colour.

While not my favourite MLK picturebook biography, I do think it still is worth reading and definitely a fairly good addition to your infant libraries.

#LitWorld2018GB Update: United States of America

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

14 comments on “[Monday Reading] Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King As Children: Fishing and Roller-Skating

  1. How funny that both of your titles this week had that click-bait theme where the title activity only happened basically in one instance. Not sure I like that, but I guess their point was to show them as normal kids doing normal things. LOL I like the artwork in When Rosa Parks Went Fishing — I’m adding this one to my TBR list. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Two books I don’t know. Thanks for sharing.


  3. I think that the artwork in the MLK book would appeal to children. I volunteer in my son’s school library and we have so many biography picture books and yet the kids want nothing to do with them. I truly believe it’s because the illustrations are not visually appealing to them. I’m adding both books to my TBR list.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. lindabaie

    Your observations about the two books is interesting. It makes me wonder about the truth of the stories, though some of the content surely is backed by research. Thanks, Myra, for sharing the books and your opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I like the idea of trying to present important figures to children in ways that make them real people who were once children too. I do think there are some real challenges to that too. I’ll definitely look for these though.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jana Eschner

    Those definitely look like cool picture book biographies! I’ll have to look for them. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Interesting, I’ve never seen either of these! I do appreciate the idea of trying to make historical figures relatable to young readers – every world-changing person once was a little kid, just like them!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I like the artwork in the Rosa Parks book. I’m not sure about how the people are drawn in the MKL one.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for sharing, I hadn’t seen either of these before! The artwork is so pretty in the Rosa Parks book, I’ll have to find that one!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sarah Sammis

    Interesting series of picture books. My weekly updates

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I too like nonfiction books that personalize the characters. I adored how Jabari Asim and E.B. Lewis showed us the young John Lewis in Preaching to the Chickens. I prefer Chiara Fedele’s art in these two and don’t really think cartoons are necessary.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. The Leaders Doing Headstands Series is new to me. Thanks for highlighting it so I can check it out!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. These two are new to me. Thank you for the detailed comments and illustrations shared. Love the art in the first book.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’ve been curious about this series so thanks for your insight about them.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: